Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Commonwealth Of Dunces

I live in Pennsylvania.  Apparently with a huge number of dunces.

Pennsylvania does not have a State Fair, it has a Farm Show.  This traditionally takes place during the second week in January at a large complex of buildings built and funded by Pennsylvania taxpayers which is called the Farm Show Complex.  It's here in the state capitol of Harrisburg.  Obviously, it doesn't make sense to keep this huge facility idle for the other 51 weeks so the Complex is leased or rented out to various other groups throughout the year for things like the PA Auto Show, the National Horse Show, and the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show is basically a gun show.  Yes, it has kayaks and canoes and fishing stuff and camping gear, but it is above all else, no matter what anybody says, a gun show.  The organizers, Reed Exhibitions, actually tried to show a little bit of empathy this year and told its exhibitors that assault weapons would not be permitted at the show, out of deference to families and the Newtown massacre.

The exhibitors' howls of protest could be heard from sea to shining sea.

The organizers claim that banning "modern sporting rifles" from the show help keep the focus on "the hunting and fishing traditions enjoyed by American families."  The ban would only affect a tiny percentage of exhibitors.

Instead of going along with this extremely sensible -- and sensitive -- policy, so many vendors have pulled out of the show in protest that the show has been canceled.  The organizers are claiming that it's only being "postponed for now," but it's been canceled.

I just don't get it.  I don't get why deciding not to allow the sale of automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines at what was originally a hunting and fishing exposition is making people crazy.

This nation needs to get over its addiction to guns.  The Second Amendment has been warped beyond all recognition of its original intent by these C-student losers who are convinced that their government is their enemy and that therefore they need to be armed with the most effective killing technology available for when Uncle Sam comes knocking.  It's why they don't want national gun registration databases, because, well, that's a list which can be used by the government to round up and seize guns.

Which, in my opinion, would be a great idea.  But that's not the point of this essay.  The point is, that in spite of the fact that these weapons are being used to kill our children and are entirely too abundant and easy to acquire, my fellow Pennsylvanians are raising a huge stink about not being able to buy them at a fishing show.  A fishing show held less than two months after the worst mass killing in our history outside of the World Trade Center.

What the hell is wrong with people?

When is the killing going to be enough?

I hope I live to see a couple of sea changes in our American culture, I really do.  I hope I live to see gay marriage become as universal and commonplace as straight marriage.  I hope to see that women finally achieve true social and financial equality, and that they finally get the unquestioned and unquestionable right to decide what happens to their bodies.  And I hope to see the day when the rest of us normal folks finally have had enough of killing, flip the bird to the NRA and grow the stones to do something about the guns in our society.  I really do.  Instead I live in a time when the reaction to a mass killing of kindergarteners and first graders is to line up at the gun stores and buy automatic weapons and super-sized ammo magazines before they're taken off the market.  Who needs this crap?  I want my police and my military to have them, not my freaking NEIGHBOR.

There was a woman on the NPR radio program Here And Now who was telling the host about a terrible tragedy in her life:  a few years ago in Texas, she was with her parents when another of these loons barged into the cafeteria where they were dining and started killing people.  Her parents were murdered.  Her response was not to advocate gun control, but to bitch and moan about the fact that "things would have been different" if concealed-carry had been legal and she had had her Colt .45 in her handbag instead of out in her glove compartment.  She has been carrying this anger around for YEARS.  And she clearly had recited her story so many times that she truly believes that things would have been different if she'd been allowed to have her gun in her handbag -- that she would have taken down the murderer and saved her parents and would thus have had a much different life.

She's delusional.  In my humble opinion, she is delusional.

There is no guarantee that she would have made any difference.  She may have been killed herself.  Her parents may have died anyway.  She may have opened fire on this guy and missed, or worse, hit an innocent bystander or a child and ruined someone else's life and world as thoroughly as she has convinced herself that gun control laws have ruined hers.  She has "what-if"-ed herself into the same delusion that so many others have in the wake of such killings, that a surfeit of guns in the hands of the entire population would have saved lives in these awful tragedies.

I would respectfully remind her that gun laws are not responsible for her parents' deaths; the sociopath who pulled the trigger is responsible.  And I would respectfully remind her that, metaphorically speaking, her right to swing her fists around stops just at the tip of my nose.  We have the right to go about our lives free from the fear that the guy next to us might shoot us.  The Second Amendment provides for the existence of a WELL-REGULATED civilian militia -- in itself an idea that has become outdated and archaic, because we have the finest armed forces and police on the planet, but never mind that now -- but it does not automatically give her or anybody else the right to own military grade hardware.  It was intended to allow farmers and business owners and bakers and printers and librarians to keep a rifle handy in case the British dropped in to take things back for the King, in a time when there was no national armed force of any kind, and precious little in the way of local law enforcement outside the largest communities.  Clearly, this is not the world we live in any longer.

No, the world we live in is one where paranoid fantasies rule a huge chunk of our citizenry and keep our lawmakers ineffective because they are too afraid of losing their precious jobs to do the right thing and get rid of all these advanced high-capacity killing machines.  You don't need an assault rifle to put food on the table, or for so-called "sport," and nobody outside of Seal Team Six needs a weapon that fires six shots a second and holds ten full seconds' worth of ammo in the bargain.

Those who say different are dunces.

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